DHS Public Database Includes Personal Information of Abuse Victims
The Trump administration’s effort to highlight crimes committed by undocumented immigrants has become a nightmare for immigrant victims of abuse, with the personal information of undocumented victims appearing in a publicly searchable database launched last month by the Department of Homeland Security.
Last month, DHS created the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office, aimed at assisting the victims of crimes committed by immigrants. At the same time, it rolled out a database called Victim Information and Notification Exchange, or DHS-VINE, ostensibly to provide information on the custody status and detention information of immigrants who have been accused of crimes. But the database appears to contain information about a much broader group of people, including undocumented immigrants in detention who are not suspected of crimes other than lacking legal status—and who are sometimes themselves victims of abuse.
The problem was first highlighted by the Tahirih Justice Center, which supports immigrant women and girls escaping gender-based violence. On Thursday, the group wrote a letter to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement explaining that the personal information of immigrant survivors was searchable in DHS-VINE.